THE jury will be out on whether crowds were smaller at this year's country music festival than previous years.
But, another Tamworth institution officially just had one of its biggest years in history.
The Tamworth art gallery is more than twice as old the country music festival and its reputation has been growing.
Annual attendance at the Tamworth gallery has grown by more than 25 per cent since 2016.
They have been described sometimes as the community's living room.Gallery director Bridget Guthrie
The stars aligned for the gallery in 2019 which helped boost the overall attendance figure to a possibly unprecedented level.
The gallery hosted three separate "blockbuster" events in 2019; each probably enough to tide over a smaller gallery for an entire year.
The gallery burst out of the gate in 2019 hosting the nation's most-famous exhibition - the Archibald Prize - in January.
In June, the gallery - one of the oldest in regional NSW - celebrated its centenary with a number of activities.
Then, towards the end of the year, Tamworth became the focus of the entire NSW arts community when it hosted Artstate - the biggest celebration and conference of art in the state.
All of this came on top of a full schedule of regular programmed exhibitions.
It all helped influence 66,740 people to walk through the gallery doors in 2019.
The attendance figure was up more 25 per cent compared to the 2016 tally (53,254).
Gallery director Bridget Guthrie said the bumper year in 2019 was helped by additional budget from the council.
She said the 2017 decision to open the doors on Sundays has also paid dividends.
The increased interest in art in 2019 highlighted the value of galleries in regional areas, for the director.
It also sharpened disappointment about the government's decision to erase arts from a newly created federal department in a merger of bureaucracies.
"One of the things the gallery can provide is a place for people to come that is free," Ms Guthrie said.
"They have been described sometimes as the community's living room.
"And our value system is that we believe arts and culture are for everyone.
"That's why I believe so strongly in public art; public art is that next step taking into public spaces."
The appreciation for art shown in recent years also backs up the council's push to secure funding for a $128 million performing arts precinct in Peel Street.
The project will include a minor extension of the city's existing library and gallery.
Ms Guthrie suggested the gallery would become an even more attractive destination in the CBD with a new cafe proposed.
"The fact people can come, have a look around and have a cuppa, something to eat is all part of an experience," she said.
Art gallery attendance: by the numbers
This year, the gallery will host the Textile Triennial which is a celebration some of its most renowned pieces in its collection.
In April, Tamworth will loan pieces from the National War Memorial by legendary Australian artists Russel Drysdale, Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd for an exhibition commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.
Tamworth Regional Gallery attendance figures reported to Create NSW.
All attendance figures include gallery visits and outreach at schools and other facilities.
- 2016: 53,254
- 2017: 58,535 (The gallery's opening hours were extended to Sunday in this year.)
- 2018: 64,112
- 2019: 66,740